Mission Strong offers focus for southern AZ in keeping its military installations

Mission Strong offers focus for southern AZ in keeping its military installations

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - As the Air Force retires the A-10, the future of Davis Monthan Air Force Base remains in question.

"One of the things we heard very clearly, particularly from the Pentagon, was they believed that Tucson was a divided community, and so, we came back to change that," DM50 president Mike Grassinger told a room of about 100 people downtown Wednesday afternoon.

The Southern Arizona Defense Alliance offered Mission Strong as a necessary rally point for the community toward the Pentagon.  Mission Strong promotes not only DM, but installations across southern Arizona, from Fort Huachuca to Goldwater Test Range.

"There are, I'm sure, a lot of things that we're going to have to deal with that we don't even know about right now.  But right now, as of this liftoff of this event today, our mission is to protect and preserve what we have right now," said Tucson Metro Chamber president Mike Varney said.

Southern Arizona must compete with other regions for fewer Defense resources.  If off-base features such as roads become a concern, an increase in the state gas tax might be considered.  County administrator Chuck Huckelberry said that it hasn't increased in 23 years.

"There are no, what we call, free lunches with regard to infrastructure investment. If it's going to be done, we're going to have to make those investments ourselves," Huckelberry said.

"When they bring airmen in to train, they're not looking at those assets.  They're looking at the base facilities, the ability to train and fly," said Metropolitan Pima Alliance executive director Amber Smith.

While right now not everyone might agree with what needs to be done to keep our installations, the alliance stressed that the community needs to unite and make its support clear.

"We want to provide the citizens of Tucson with a voice to say we want to support our military," said Southern Arizona Leadership Council president Ron Shoopman.

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